This Christmas was unlike any in my adulthood.  This was the first year Aaron wasn't with us.  He was able to call home from Boot Camp on Christmas Eve, so that was an unexpected and treasured gift.  Still it was odd not having him with us.  It is also the first Christmas since Luke died.  I prayed that a heavy shadow would not hang over the day.  I can't express how much we missed our two older boys.

 Thankfully the pace and excitement of the kiddos kept my mind fairly occupied!

Christmas was especially blessed for us this year as it was the first Christmas for Joshua!  Everything was new and exciting for him.  Everything is always exciting to him, so that wasn't a surprise...but it is sooo much fun to watch him have fun!

We don't do the guy in the red suit around here, and try to keep the focus on the best gift ever given...Jesus.  So, we begin our Christmas mornings with a family breakfast and reading of the account of Jesus' birth.

When you come down the stairs and are greeted by 2 shiny tricycles...excitement ensues!

After a little ride around the house, breakfast, and Bible reading we opened gifts one at a time.

Anna Grace's much hoped for Barbie.

Miss Lily and her new clock.  Little Smartie already knows many of those numbers and was asking, "What time does my clock say?"

Ally, our lover of all things girlie, excited about a make-up kit.

Joshua modeling his new knight costume (a must after some sisters, who will remain anonymous, put him in their dress-up clothes). 

Loving on his new mommy-made hot rod blankie.  Another must since he's adopted some of his sisters'!

Emma in shock at receiving the jacket she sooo wanted.

Anna Grace doing a happy dance over her rip stick.

The super-est of all super-heros...our Joshua!

Praying your Christmas was blessed by the presence of our Savior, Redeemer, King and Friend.

So thankful to be blessed by my God with the family and friends He has granted me.  My heart is full.

In Him,


Mary's Story

Sometimes I wonder just how much Mary understood of what laid ahead for the baby boy she held, nuzzled, loved...and like all good mamas...adored.

Simeon had looked directly at her and prophesied,  "...a sword will pierce even your own soul." (Luke 2:35).

What a hard word to hear on a joyous occasion.  He was forty days old!  Old enough to go to the Lord to be consecrated unto the Lord!  They would go to Jerusalem and do as the Law required!

But in the midst the word comes..."a sword will pierce even your own soul."

How she must have turned those words over and over in her head. "A sword will pierce even your own soul...a sword will pierce even my own soul."

Surely she had witnessed the stabbing and tearing of a mother's heart in the faces of her friends, own mother and sisters.  She had heard the mother mutterings and longings of others for their boys to 'do this' or 'not do that'.  Undoubtedly she'd heard their prayers early in the morning, late into the night, whispered under the breath, choked out through tears by the women she knew for their sons.

But the perfect Son of God?  The One Who is Salvation and King?

What could You mean, Lord?

I wonder how those words must have followed her as her son grew in "wisdom and in favor with God and men."

Did she ask, "Is this what you meant, Lord?" as her other boys teased their brother. 

"Is this what You meant, Lord?" when even adult James refused to believe?  

"Is this what You meant, Lord?" when she couldn't get near her firstborn because of the crowds and He declared, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's Word and put it into practice."

Surely, she knew He was born to die...right?  

How do you look into the dark eyes of your baby and fathom that this one nestled in your arms will one day die in your place?

How do you sing over the One who sings over you knowing that His purpose is to be the Spotless Lamb?

How do you hold His little boy hand and not hear the hammer that will drive the nail?

How do those thoughts not pierce your own soul each time you stroke the hair on the head that will bear the thorns?

Did she want to spare her baby His future pain as He died to spare her hers?

Did she grasp the depth of thrust of the sword?

Did she remember that "joy comes in the morning?"  

Did eyes of faith see the empty tomb and the serpent-crushing, grave-conquering, sin-vanquishing Son of hers triumphing gloriously on the third day?

Did she grasp the depth of thrust of the sword?

The more serious the wound, the more rejoiced over is the healing.

"...a sword will pierce even your own soul."

Those hard words were preparation, foundation...whether she foreknew her son's future or not.  They would be the echo off promise from God her Father, God her Husband.  Reassurance that all was ticking of as planned.  His plan.  

"Mary, I told you...a sword will pierce even your own soul."

In Him,


Who Will Grieve?

361 days ago, Luke went home to be with Jesus.

Yesterday, 'David' joined him.

A recent member of the foster home once occupied by my China boys, David arrived just skin and bones.  

It was recently discovered that he had a heart condition.  Then he contracted pneumonia.  The under-staffed hospitals (due to Christmas!), apparently weren't willing to see many patients...particularly orphans.

And so, yet another child dies without knowing the love, comfort, and support of a mother, father, a brother or sister.  Without birthday parties in their honor, without ornaments hung on a tree that bear their name, without a brother to wrestle with, without a sister's hair to pull, without a mama bear to ferociously fight for him, without a baba to guide him through the obstacles of life.   

And who will grieve?

Luke had us to grieve him, to miss him, to fall prostrate and cry out to a God who comforts.

Who grieves for David like each child deserves to be grieved?

We rightly grieve the 20 children senselessly killed a little over a week ago.  But who grieves for the Davids?  The ones for whom we as wealthy rich Americans can change their world...yet don't.  We have sat around as a nation for the last week arguing gun control, video game violence, and a hundred other things, shaking our heads at the senselessness of it all.

Yet there is just as senseless a tragedy occurring each and every day when another child remains an orphan because we who can help refuse to act.  Instead of worrying about how David and so many like him will survive, we Americans worry about whether our 2.5 children will get into the college of their choice, have the prom dress and makeup they covet, their favorite brand name plastered across their chest.  We worry about whether our nest egg will sustain us into our  unpromised tomorrows while children who could have been saved, die.

David's death, has made me sad, yes.  

But more than that (you may not be surprised by this) it has made me angry.  Angry that those of us who can help...don't.  We worry about things that in the scheme of eternity are manure while the things that are gold in the scheme of eternity silently slip from this earth.

And no one even knows...or cares.

I haven't heard the nauseating statistics on what Americans have spent this Christmas on themselves, but I have a hunch it could have ensured David received the medical care he needed.  And a few thousand others as well.

Let me suggest this, if you are still reading, take the last 48 or so hours before Christmas and instead of buying one more gift for someone who will in all likelihood return it anyway...and donate the amount you would have spent to an orphan care organization.  

You won't even have to go to a mall, stand in line, wrap the gift, or wonder if they'll like it (they'll cherish it!).  Not to mention you will know that your gift counted, mattered, made an impact for eternity.  

Only catch is you might not get a thank you.  Now. 

But I bet you will when you see the Lord.

In Him,

ps...Here are a few of the many organizations that care for orphans and would immediately put your gift to use:

Show Hope

New Hope Foundation

Abba's Children


Last Few Days

...have been a bit of a whirlwind!

Sunday evening, Kevin, Anna Grace & Joshua headed up to Philadelphia for Joshua's 5th casting appointment (early Monday morning).  

When it was time for bed, Joshua apparently didn't want to take off the sweater vest I had put him in for church! 

 So funny because when I put it on he kept saying, "Thank you, Mama! Thank you!" And, then scooted over to the mirror to check himself out!  And, let me tell you, he rocks the sweater vest!  Too cute!

Anna Grace & Joshua waiting for his appointment

His casting sounded like the most difficult with the first tears of any of his appointments so far.  

He was crying, "I want mommy!"  That's a pretty sure way to make sure I'm at every appointment!  He will get casted again on Friday...and, yes, I will be there this time!

Last night, Anna Grace & Emma had their band and choir concerts (both play clarinet & Emma is in choir).  

Emma is in center

Other than getting the 'I'm trapped on an airplane with two wiggly 3 year olds" feeling, it was wonderful.  Lily & Joshua really did very well, all things considered.  Two and a half hour concert at bedtime?  They did great.  

Anna Grace said she was nervous, but it didn't show and Emma pulled off her solo beautifully.

Lily's physical therapy is no longer in home, so we have to go to the local children's physical therapy center (which she is growing to love).  Today, after staring longingly at another child riding a tricycle, she pedaled a tricycle for the first time herself!  Her feet have never been able to reach the pedals on the ones at home, but this one was a perfect fit and she was off!  With no instruction she pedaled herself all the way around the building!  Brought tears to my eyes!  Wish I'd had a camera...

Today, Emma decided to spike Joshua's hair while I took Lily to her first dental appointment (let's just say she's not the stellar dental patient like her brother!).  He was sooo cute!

And, tonight during dinner we got a call from Aaron!  We didn't miss it this time, Praise Jesus! We got to talk for almost 30 minutes and he sounded wonderful.  Focused  & dedicated.  He said he might be put in charge of helping the other recruits study since he is doing so well on the academic side of their training and is staying under radar on most everything else...which is a good thing in Boot Camp!  What a treat!

Starting to get misty-eyed over the Savior's birth as Christmas approaches...

In Him,


A Letter

It has been a little over two weeks since Aaron left for Navy Boot Camp.  

A little over 2 weeks with no word from him (they aren't allowed to communicate for awhile).  Unless you count the Navy form letter we received (he filled in his address and graduation date) and what is apparently known as the 'kid in a box'...a box containing all the undonated, non-navy items he had on him when he left.  Shoes, backpack, coat, airplane ticket and some other paperwork.  

Let me tell you, that chokes you up a bit to see everything your child was wearing when he left now neatly folded in a small box!

We knew he wouldn't be able to communicate with us for a few weeks, but we also knew we were now getting close to that window when he could start writing us.

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting much in length.  Aaron is a talker like his mama, but doesn't have a history of that translating into writing.  

Perhaps he never had much of an opportunity before?

For today we received a thick-ish envelope from 'Sailor Recruit Aaron"!  The first of hopefully a weekly series.  He wrote over a series of days telling us about his adjustment and things he was learning and the names of some of his fellow Sailor Recruits among other things.   Some of the things were so funny (like one of the cadences he recited for us), others were a huge relief (he still is in possession of his wisdom teeth...for at least another 6 months anyway), others squeezed at my heart (he told us how the Word has encouraged him), still others were bittersweet (to see how he made sure to let all his siblings know...including Luke...that he loved them.  On. Each. Letter.).

I confess...I've already reread the letters 4 times.  

And both Kevin and I are so relieved.  He sounded good.  No doubt it's tough going, but he sounds focused and strong.

Keep praying for him, please!  

Tonight we rejoice as his letters allowed us to shout the 'Amen!' to the Lord's 'yes' to so many of the things we've specifically prayed for our oldest these last several weeks.

One last thing, so many people have scratched their heads at us for having such a wide range of ages in our family.  I have to say I treasure the perspective it is bringing to so much!  I wish I had had it when Aaron & Emma were Joshua and Lily's age!  It is teaching me, even if I am a slow learner.

And to my friends whose children haven't made it to their teens (perhaps not even double digits!)...it goes quickly, it really does.  I know it doesn't feel like it now and that all you want is for there to be some stillness and quiet (& that's okay...I still crave it even with perspective!), but before you know it you will find yourself on the other end of a lens looking at your baby turned adult and try to mentally reenter those moments of sitting and reading together on the couch, praying by their bedside together, walking to the playground, cheering from a sideline, watching a movie together, playing games, singing songs, doing kid stuff together...with so many little ones still under my roof, it is my reminder to live here, in this very moment with them more than I have in the past, more than I did even today.  To remember they, too, will grow up and this moment must be lived with them now.

In Him,

ps...still have time to vote on the family Christmas picture.  If anyone has Photoshop & thinks they could tweak any of them for me (brighten, etc.), just let me know.  Looks like #2 is pulling ahead.


Thanksgiving Pictures

We decided to attempt to do a family picture on Thanksgiving.  

Kevin's parents' house offers a beautiful backdrop, so we thought we'd give it a whirl before Aaron left for boot camp.

I honestly think the pictures leading up to 'the picture' are hilarious. Perhaps a little more accurate portrayal of life in a large family than the final send-to-family-and-friends photo!

So here are some of the pictures before 'the picture'....

Anna Grace is ready to go!

Now Ally is ready, too!  Joshua is interested in his shirt.

Oh, no!  We're losing them.  Aaron's expression says it all.

Maybe a new location will help?  No so sure...especially Anna Grace.

So photographing a family, much less a fairly good-sized one, can be tricky.  Although none of 'the pictures' are perfect, they could work for our Christmas cards (if I ever send them out!).

So, for all 3 of my readers (Hi Mom! and Mom M!  and Emma!)...let's vote!  I have my personal favorite of the next 3 photos but I can be swayed!!!

So, should we go with #1  "Standing by the Fence in Black & White"?

All 3 younger girls could have done better smiling.  Love Joshua's 'rock on' expression!

 #2 "Standing by the Fence in Brown, Green, and Pink"?

Sun was a little bright...hence squinty eyes.  Girls' expressions are better...Joshua's not so much.

Or #3 "Black in the Field" {don't let my lack luster titles influence you!)

If Emma & Joshua were scooted over more to the right of the photo (away from Kevin) this would be close to perfect...except Joshua isn't smiling again.  He just couldn't understand why he should look at this black box on 3 legs, much less smile at it!  Go  figure!

So, to vote...you have to leave a comment telling me which # picture you like best!!! 

Or, I guess you can email me if you have my address!

So while you are mulling it over, I thought I'd share some of our sibling attempts. 

Very few worked, although several had potential.  
Anna Grace was D-O-N-E!

Couldn't get them to look in the same direction. Still I like it!
 This next one may be my favorite of the entire day...

Lily looks a little stressed in this one...but still so sweet!

And, this, though it slightly blurry from the exceptionally high ISO, is a be-still-this-mama's-beating-heart photo.

So go VOTE! 

In Him,


4th Round of Casting

Joshua had his 4th set of casts put on this past Monday.  

He'd been in blue for 2 weeks and had been a very happy boy.

Aaron came with me when Joshua had his blue casts put on (can't get those pictures off my Ipad...grrr).  

This time Emma came.  I need someone to help keep me awake!  Not to mention help keep Joshua entertained!  (Which isn't too terribly difficult with this vehicle loving boy.  It's buses, big trucks, trains, planes, and even huge ships all the way to Philadelphia.  Very entertaining for this 3 year old!)

One of the many bonuses of Emma coming with me is that she takes much better pictures than I...or anyone else in our family for that matter!  Check out her blog to see what I mean!

I was a little concerned as they casted him this time because he was moaning, which he hasn't done before.  I could tell he was uncomfortable.  

My concern only grew when on the drive home he woke up from his nap crying. That is what he did with the first set of casts which we had to get taken off a few days later.

However, after eating dinner, he seemed like he might be okay.  Super silly, but possibly not in too much pain. Check out this video to see what I mean!

I think the Tylenol with Codeine had kicked in...what do you think?

Unfortunately, he didn't sleep well that night (woke up every hour) or for his nap the next day.  Last night, however, he slept longer stretches, so hopefully it is just 'normal' soreness!

Keep praying for our little guy!  He's such a trooper!

In Him,